Latin Quarter (1945)

vt Frenzy
UK / 71 minutes / bw / British National, Anglo–American Dir & Scr: Vernon Sewell Pr: Louis H. Jackson Story: L’Angoisse (n.d. play) by Pierre Mills and C. Vylars Cine: Günther Krampf Cast: Derrick De Marney, Joan Greenwood, Frederick Valk, Joan Seton, Beresford Egan, Lilly Kann, Martin Miller, Valentine Dyall, Anthony Hawtrey, Bruce Winston, Kempinski, Espinosa, Margaret Clarke, Rachel Brodbrar, Sybille Binder.

Latin Quarter - 0 opener

The second of no fewer than four versions that Sewell made of a Grand Guignol play whose title translates as The Anguish. His other three adaptations—all of which differ quite a lot—were The Medium (1934), Ghost Ship (1952) and House of Mystery (1961). All are supernatural thrillers; this one has in addition many aspects reminiscent of historical noir. There’s a sort of quotation of the movie’s premise in Claude Chabrol’s much later POULET AU VINAIGRE (1984; vt Cop au Vin).

Paris, the Left Bank, 1893. Sculptor Charles Garrie (De Marney, who also served as Associate Director) has moved into the old studio of his erstwhile rival Anton Minetti (Egan) and, for enigmatic reasons, has insisted that everything be left exactly as it is—to the annoyance of his model and girlfriend Lucille Lindbeck (Seton). The concierge, Maria (Kann), barely dare step inside the place, for time and again she hears the pipe organ playing when there’s no one there but herself. (What’s an artist’s studio without a pipe organ, after all?) Although Charles publicly pooh-poohs Maria’s accounts, he too has had spooky experiences in the studio, such as the lamp that inexplicably flickers and dies every Continue reading

Man in Black (1949)

UK / 74 minutes / bw / Hammer, Exclusive Dir & Story: Francis Searle Pr: Anthony Hinds Scr: John Gilling Cine: Cedric Williams Cast: Sidney James, Betty Ann Davies, Sheila Burrell, Hazel Penwarden, Anthony Forwood, Valentine Dyall, Courtney Hope, Lawrence Baskcombe, Mollie Palmer, Gerald Case.

Man in Black 1949 - 0 opener, Dyall as MiB

Valentine Dyall is The Man in Black.

This was a Hammer-produced spinoff from the BBC radio series Appointment with Fear, which ran for ten seasons 1943–5 and then reappeared for a single season as The Man in Black in 1949. Each episode comprised a half-hour tale introduced by a character called The Man in Black—much as the character The Whistler introduced the US radio series The Whistler (1942–55) and the series of eight WHISTLER B-movies spun off from it (see the Encyclopedia for more details of these). In these original Man in Black series the “storyteller” was played by Valentine Dyall, as he is in this movie; when the radio show was resuscitated much later by the BBC, first as Fear on Four (1988–92) and then as The Man in Black (2009–11), the “storytellers” were, respectively, Edward de Souza and Mark Gatiss.

All of which background is to a certain extent irrelevant because really, aside from Dyall’s brief introduction to the tale and even briefer concluding remarks, essentially this is Continue reading

Night Boat to Dublin (1946)

UK / 96 minutes / bw / Trans-World, Pathe Dir: Lawrence Huntington Pr: Hamilton G. Inglis Scr: Lawrence Huntington, Robert Hall Cine: Otto Heller Cast: Robert Newton, Raymond Lovell, Guy Middleton, Muriel Pavlow, Herbert Lom, John Ruddock, Martin Miller, Brenda Bruce, Gerald Case, Julian Dallas (i.e., Scott Forbes), Leslie Dwyer, Valentine Dyall, Bruce Gordon, Marius Goring, Olga Lindo, Stuart Lindsell, Gordon McLeod, Joan Maude, Lawrence O’Madden, Hay Petrie, Wilfrid Hyde White.

Night Boat to Dublin - 0 openerIn the opening moments of this noirish spy tale we see Frederick Jannings (Goring), held prisoner in the Tower of London as a suspected Nazi spy and facing death by firing squad, being given one last chance to tell British Military Intelligence what has happened to missing Swedish scientist Dr. Hansen (Miller), whose researches into atomic weapons are making their way to the Nazis. Jannings believes Hansen is dead, which is taken by his captors as a refusal to talk; he’s Continue reading

Missing Million, The (1942)

UK / 78 minutes / bw / Signet, ABFD Dir: Phil Brandon Pr: Hugh Perceval Scr: James Seymour Story: The Missing Million (1923) by Edgar Wallace Cine: Stephen Dade Cast: Linden Travers, John Warwick, Patricia Hilliard, John Stuart, Ivan Brandt, Brefni O’Rorke, Charles Victor, Marie Ault, Eric Clavering, Valentine Dyall, Arthur Hambling, Albert Chevalier, Aubrey Mallalieu, Jim Donald, Cecil Bevan.

Missing Million - 0 opener

Rex Walton (Brandt) is about to marry Dora Coleman (Hilliard), daughter of treasury official Michael Coleman (O’Rorke). As he and his sister Joan (Travers) visit the Colemans’ stately London house one evening, though, Rex suddenly disappears, and a mysterious phonecall tells Joan that his life is in danger. It proves that there’s a vicious blackmailing gang on the loose, led by a master-criminal—”the prince of blackmailers”—called The Panda because of his habit of Continue reading

Case of the Missing Heiress, The (1949)

vt Doctor Morelle; vt Doctor Morelle: The Case of the Missing Heiress

UK / 74 minutes / bw / Edward G. Whiting, Hammer, Exclusive Dir: Godfrey Grayson Pr: Anthony Hinds Scr: Roy Plomley, Ambrose Grayson Story: Dr. Morelle (seemingly first produced 1950; play) by Wilfred Burr Cine: Cedric Williams Cast: Valentine Dyall, Julia Lang, Hugh Griffith, Philip Leaver, Jean Lodge, Peter Drury, Sidney Vivian, John Sharp.

Obnoxious Harley Street psychiatrist and amateur sleuth Dr. Morelle (Dyall) dictates to his dowdy secretary, Miss Frayle (Lang), his account of a case in which she involved him—the disappearance of her friend, the heiress Cynthia Mason (Lodge), from the decrepit mansion Barren Tor, on Dartmoor.

Miss Frayle traveled down to Devon herself to investigate, gaining admission to the house as the new maid, “Amy”. (A plot hiccup is that the real newly hired housemaid never turns up.) She discovered the roost to be ruled, ever since Cynthia’s mother’s death, by Cynthia’s wheelchair-bound stepfather Samuel Kimber (Leaver); an aggressively offensive man, Kimber is immediately her main suspect. The night of her disappearance, Cynthia was planning to run away with impoverished writer Peter Lorimer (Drury), who lives in a cottage nearby; we know, although Miss Frayle doesn’t, that immediately beforehand Kimber had, in guise of conversation, enticed Peter into focusing on the flickering light from Kimber’s ring as Kimber intoned repeatedly that he needed to relax . . .

Case of the Missing Heiress -  3 Batty butler Bensall (Hugh Griffith)

The batty butler, Bensall (Hugh Griffith).

To try to find out what happened to Cynthia, Miss Frayle enlisted the aid of the doddery Barren Tor butler Bensall (Griffith)—not just doddery but extremely eccentric: he trailed the ghost of Continue reading